Friday marked one year since the Met announced its closure during a musical rehearsal of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra. It was only meant to be a “short intermission,” but it swiftly morphed into the pandemic juggernaut that decimated our beloved performing arts community. Not even during the pandemic of 1918 was the Metropolitan Opera closed for this long of a stretch. Not one day since then can be defined as “easy.” Even the lighter days have a heaviness to them, because so much of our futures and careers remain in flux, unknown, uncertain.
What we do know is that we are fighting for a better Met and a better industry at large. We will NOT return to the same industry we left, in a number of ways. In a recent statement, AGMA wrote “there is no going back, forward is the only direction.” That is true in many ways. We are happy to report continued progress on our proposals:
- Restructuring contracts with more up-front pay to mitigate risk
- Enhancing break privileges and protections
- Instituting bereavement leave for soloists
This week, we will face more important issues that must change at the Met and within the halls of Performing Arts institutions all over the world. On Wednesday, March 17, we will meet across the table with the Met to present comprehensive proposals to address systemic inequality and structural racism at the Met and in the opera industry.
As Met Dancer Nathaniel Hunt says, “It is time for the Met to step forward and address the systemic racism in the institution. The changes we make here will reverberate throughout the entire performing arts industry.”
There are pervasive racial inequalities built into our cities, neighborhoods, and especially the Performing Arts industry. It is our responsibility to use our collective power as union members to dismantle systemic racism in our industry and make the opera world safe and equitable. As our industry rebuilds, it must not use the same blueprint; it must face its long-standing issues of representation and inequality. Met Artists are committed to working together to combat all forms of racism within the industry and hold organizations accountable. Opera houses must acknowledge their history of systemic racism and put in the actual work to advance racial equity.
Our sixth week of bargaining with the Met will center around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives:
- Improve the Met’s hiring and audition practices to ensure opportunity for Artists who are members of groups traditionally underrepresented at the Met and within the opera industry
- Prohibit casting practices that disproportionately harm BIPOC Artists
- Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) training for all Met employees and contractors, with enhanced training for senior management.
- Establish and promote a confidential process to report racism and discrimination
- Establish a standing committee to issue recommendations on anti-racism and anti-discrimination initiatives and actions for the Met
Throughout our bargaining period, we have devoted days to the specific needs of Stage Directors, Dancers, Choristers, and Soloists. Later this week, we focus on Stage Manager concerns over increased workload and Staff Performers needs including:
- Increasing notification and protections for casting
- Supplementing Sunday work rule protections
- Mandating AGMA delegate presence at auditions
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to Ned Hanlon, Negotiating Committee Chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org, Eastern Counsel Sam Wheeler, email@example.com, or any of your delegates and committee members.
Our Negotiating Committee Communications Team sends out weekly updates on bargaining to Met Artists via email (we encourage you to forward these emails to friends!) and through social media. To avoid email fatigue, all other AGMA membership will receive less-frequent updates than that but are encouraged to follow our Met AGMA groups on social media: @MetOperaChorus @MetOperaSupers @MetOperaBallet. These accounts are run by AGMA Artists!
Your Met AGMA Negotiating Committee:
Ned Hanlon, Committee Chair; Ross Benoliel, Chorister; Richard Bernstein, Soloist; Shay Bland, Dancer; Helena Brown, Extra Chorister; Antuan Byers, Dancer; Stephanie Chigas, Chorister; Florencio Cora, Staff Performer; Lianne Coble-Dispensa, Chorister; Jōvan Dansberry, Dancer; Karen Dixon, Chorister; Anne Dyas, Staff Performer; Tobin Eason, Dancer; Ashley Emerson, Soloist; Kenneth Floyd, Chorister; Theresa Ganley, Stage Manager; Katharine Goeldner, Soloist; David Gonsier, Dancer; Katherine Hozier, Dancer; Mary Hughes, Chorister; Nathaniel Hunt, Dancer; Matthew Kernisky, Staff Performer; Jarrod Lee, Extra Chorister; Shawna Lucey, Stage Director; Megan Marino Mayes, Soloist; Brandon Mayberry, Chorister; Scott Moon, Stage Manager; Maria Phegan, Dancer; Daniel Rigazzi, Stage Director; Mark Schowalter, Soloist; Elizabeth Sciblo, Soloist Delegate; Bradley Schelver, Dancer; Marcus Shields, Stage Director; Daniel Smith, Chorister; Andrew Stenson, Soloist; Sarah Weber-Gallo, Dancer